Parenting Under Pressure
It’s natural to feel stressed when you are caring for a child with type 1 diabetes. New routines, changing information, time demands, and other parts of daily life can become overwhelming.
Even after getting used to the diabetes diagnosis, fear of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) continues in many parents. This fear often comes with anxiety and stress, especially in mothers.
Parents’ stress—and their attitudes and feelings about caring for a child with type 1 diabetes—can affect their child and his or her ability to manage diabetes. That’s why it is important for parents and other care partners to take steps to lower their stress levels. Relieving anxiety or uncertainty about raising a child with type 1 diabetes can have a positive effect on both the caregivers and the child.
If there are any questions or concerns about managing the stress that can come from caring for a child with type 1 diabetes, please do not hesitate to talk to your health care provider as well as your child’s.
Tips for lowering stress levels
- Adopt a positive coping style. A “coping style” describes how someone handles stress. People who have their own way of problem-solving and dealing with stress, or are more accepting of the problems they are facing, tend to be able to better handle the stress in their lives
- Try to communicate an upbeat attitude. Children look to their parents for guidance. If a parent has a positive attitude about managing their child’s diabetes, it is more likely that the child will too
- Talk openly about diabetes. Treat your child’s diabetes in a matter-of-fact manner, making it part of the family’s routine. Be open and honest with other children and family members
- Don’t go it alone. Many times, one parent will take the lead in caring for a child with diabetes. But, if possible, it may be helpful to involve the other parent too. Studies show that parents who share responsibility and work together in their child’s diabetes care are more effective in managing the disease
- Consider diabetes education and/or problem-solving training. For caregivers who are under stress or who aren’t confident in their abilities, learning more about diabetes, stress management, and problem solving may increase confidence in their ability to manage their child’s diabetes
- Increase your child’s role in self-care. As your child gets older, he or she can assume more of his or her diabetes self-care. Talk with the diabetes care team about when to increase a child’s or teen’s role in the handling of his or her diabetes care
Relieve stress by learning to relax:
- Try deep breathing exercises for 5 to 10 minutes at a time at least once a day
- Learn progressive relaxation, which consists of tensing, then relaxing, muscles
- Exercise regularly, and relax the body with circling, stretching, and shaking movements
- Replace bad thoughts with good ones. Think of things that make you feel happy or proud
Having too much stress for too long may lead to depression, which can interfere with daily life and cause difficulty for the depressed person and those around them. If you think you may be experiencing depression, talk to your health care provider about treatment options.